Black Dog Day

Who knows why such days come along from time to time…  It was the writer Peter Redgrove that coined this term when I was one of his students in Cornwall many years back.  He swore blind that when you entered Cornwall over the Tamar a black dog jumped on your shoulder and sat there until you left the county!  Quite what he had against the place I never did find out.  It reminded me of another recollection of my student days…

My online friend Andy Parkinson recently mentioned a previous blog of mine in which I checked some Patrick Heron pictures…I reckon this might be one of them…Image

And when I think of him battling away across this surface with the No.2 watercolour brush swishing oil colour onto a canvas over two metres long I realise that I haven’t got so much to complain about…though in my defence the shapes are both more complicated and pre determined.  Having said that I recall Heron saying that he drew out the shapes and filled in the colours discreetly too.

So today everything seemed just a little off colour and every action seemed a little clumsy… at one point culminating in a quadruple cock up…the paper on which I was drawing slipped, as I grabbed at it I knocked the radio flying and moving over to retrieve it I tipped over a canvas that in turn saw me spilling the paint onto the floor.  Almost a Fischli/Weiss ‘event’!

‘So It Goes’ as the great man said…Image



ImageBright morning

 A good day to be in the studio.  Plenty to do, and to get started a few moments tidying up.  Put all the mixed paint pots to one side and it makes me think of Bernard Frize for a second or two.  I have enjoyed his work over the years often for the inventiveness and slightly wacky edge as much as the finished objects (though a fair few of those have been super).  I recall seeing one of ‘Suite Segond’ pictures recently with its accretion of skeins from paint lids and imagine how these pots might look if they were laid down in front of a roller a la cornelia parker!  

And then to work…and a bit of discipline required as I really need to make adjustments to several of the larger canvases from ‘Deadly Delicious’ that will require some laborious overpainting.  I don’t think anyone who doesn’t do it really understands how tedious the act of creating pictures can be sometimes!


This one – HIV – has been quite stubborn and besides repainting the outer ground, essentially just lightening a wee bit,pretty much every other colour needs altering or adjusting…so far the pink has been treated to a tad more yellow in it and whitening it up a shade too.  On Wednesday (I’m treating myself to a day at Compton Verney tomorrow to see the Gainsborough show they just opened) I shall tackle those areas inside the pink, especially the darker ones that need to lighten up a good deal methinks.



‘those mist covered mountains and the valley below’


Driving through the Alsace coming back from our Easter break in Italy I was listening to Mark Knopfler singing ‘Brothers In Arms’.  I know its corny and uncool to admit to loving this but I don’t care…love it I do.  And it reminded me a good deal of the view from Sue’s terrace in Verpiana…where there’s this terrific view of the Apuane Alps where the marble is quarried and thus the whiteness you see is marble not snow.  I know the telegraph wires get in the way but what the hell we are in a small village in the middle of a yard in a working place not some posh retreat or hotel but I think that makes it so much more special.  Getting away for a few days (we were only able to be there for seven as the journey by car takes two days each way) helps clear your thinking and inspires new ideas.

Working From Home

Unbelievably we are still both full of cold so rather than go over to the studio we are working from home.  Not a hardship really though it does shape our activities somewhat…no oils here I’m afraid…


At the studio too, I have to use headphones so as not to disturb colleagues and drown out the noise of the textile machines upstairs from us (yes, we really do work in the ‘dark satanic mills’ of the Industrial Midlands…oh how romantic!), but here I can allow the music to float freely.  And though I sometimes value the importance of not being distracted by technology it can be a boon to be able to refer back to the computer as and when the ideas/process demands it.  As well as refer to the well stocked library we have amassed. 

And those visitors here who are eagle eyed will notice that I’ve used a bit of time today to tidy up this blog…

Goodness me, still poorly…

after more than a week I’m still full of the cold, maybe its the unseasonably warm weather allowing the ‘bug’ to hang in there but I nonetheless am streaming, coughing and spluttering.  All of which has kept me away from the studio.  Luckily I have the ‘box’ to hand (though I have to be sufficiently well tomorrow to hand it on to Clay Smith) and the stick (that I’m still working on to fulfil another of the McInnes ‘wheezes’!) so have been able to get on with these things here at home.  Alongside these items I have, just for fun, been photographing some dying tulips in the style of my esteemed ex-colleague John Blakemore…


Upcoming Exhibition

My gallery – the TARPEY in Castle Donington, Leicestershire – is putting on this show opening in a couple weeks time.  Alongside one or two of the new series, ‘Deadly Delicious’ there’ll be a drawing or two and a small sketchbook showing the genesis of the project.  Despite our dreadful colds both my wife (the artist Sarah R Key) and myself need to ‘buck up’ and get the van hired to take the work over to the gallery later this week…Introducing-Invite